Chattanooga officials unveil first smart city test bed along ML King Boulevard

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke and officials from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) unveiled a unique smart city research tool on Thursday afternoon that has been installed along ML King Boulevard in the city.

The tool is an important component of the “Chattanooga Smart Community Collaborative” that was recently recognized by IDC Government Insights as the top smart city initiative in the field of education. (To read our recent series on the Collaborative, click here for Part 1 and here for Part 2.)

Located on a stretch of ML King Boulevard between Market Street and Central Avenue, the project consists of a series of new sensors, installed at eight existing traffic intersections. The sensors can measure items like traffic flow, air quality, and pedestrian paths. There will be many uses for the data collected, beginning with applications for driver and pedestrian safety.

UTC’s Mina Sartipi (pictured here) showed a live video feed from the cameras on the poles, and she demonstrated how the picture quality is degraded to protect the identity of the cars and people. She added that none of the video footage is stored.

Sartipi also explained how the “ML King Smart Community Corridor,” as the project is known, could give researchers the infrastructure needed to study things like public safety, the connection between traffic and air pollution, and other areas that could improve citizens’ lives. (Pictured at right is just one way the data can be presented and analyzed.)

The project is a collaborative effort involving UTC, City of Chattanooga, The Enterprise Center, Erlanger Health System, and EPB. The latter’s gigabit network allows for lightning fast data transmission and on-the-spot computing power.

“This is one of the very few urban test beds in the nation,” Sartipi said. “This is the sandbox for our smart city projects.”

Sections of the corridor have been up and running since January, and the project has already served as a tool for UTC professors and students as well as researchers from other parts of the country.

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